IGe tests aren't very accurate, apparently. But I wonder if the presence of "benign" antibodies is really so benign. Maybe it means that the gut permeability is too high. Either way, I probably wouldn't feed my children peanut butter. I love love love peanut butter and it's one of the non-paleo foods I truly miss, but peanut production is rife with mold problems from farm to fork and peanut butter is very high probably rancid PUFAS. I wonder if peanuts cause increased gut permeability that also leads to other allergies as inappropriate food constituents are allowed into the blood stream. Many people I know who are allergic to peanuts are allergic to otherwise harmless foods like shellfish. Of course I don't know that many people allergic to peanuts my age. Growing up, we didn't have special "peanut free" tables, but you'd be loathe to find a school without one these days. What things have changed? I ate crappy sugar-filled things growing up, but maybe it's because things are now full of gut-irritating white "whole" wheat.
Unfortuantely, I don't think these researchers are wondering about that. Their "happy ending":
The only way to determine whether Ellie was truly allergic was with a food challenge, which she finally passed last October. Ellie now enjoys kid-favorite peanut butter candy, crackers and granola bars. The family was able to ditch the epinephrine injections kept in case of emergency. Said Kampwerth, "It's a big relief."
Wow, what a relief that their child can enjoy sugar-loaded processed junk!
Mmm fatty fat flavored fatty fat
The earlier graphic was a pyramid, which many mistook for a dietary recommendation graph like the USDA's' idiotic food pyramid. I feel this graphic illustrates the philosophy behind my thoughts better. Plus it adds on a new concept, which is thinking about diet in terms of the human continuum. Just like the babies in The Continuum Concept biologically expect to be held, our bodies biologically expect certain food. When we consume things like soybean oil our bodies just don't function properly, just like babies that are never held as infants. Of course there is variance based on genetics, gut bacteria, etc, but overall animal fat is the nutrient that the human body seems to be evolved to eat.
Animal fat is the nutrient our bodies can handle most perfectly. We absorb it and utilize it in a way that fuels us without dragging us down. Contrast that with a dinner of just some chicken breast and some spinach. It's a meal that's "paleo", but unlike anything our ancient human would have encountered in a thriving environment. It takes energy to digest all that protein and fiber. Add a chicken thigh with a bunch of skin and things are looking a lot better in terms of actually fueling us.
Not on the human evolutionary continuum: too much omega-6, too much fructose, too many antinutrients, too few nutrients
Butter and ghee might get to jump the continuum...after all, they are very close to being like lard, tallow, and the other animal fats. But they have their detractors.
Another interesting thing about the analogy is that The Continuum Concept maintains that the consequences of not raising children the way humans evolved to be raised aren't just horrifying things like reactive attachment disorder, but annoying behaviors we very as normal in modern children. It's the same for not eating the way humans evolved to eat. Heart disease and diabetes are the tip of the iceberg. Health problems that probably aren't normal for humans include things we view as nuisances like acne, constipation, cold sores, and a whole host of other "small" things.
Then I often ask where, as a society, did we stray from that lifestyle of whole vegetables, tubers, grains, fruits and legumes because I am confident that evidence shows that we evolved using such foods, which comprised at least 95-98% of our diet. Before the 1850s, very few people ate animal based foods. The royalty did and their paintings and pictures and gout show it.
It's amazing...he's a doctor....doesn't he have access to Sciencedirect or any other scientific databases? There is ample and irrefutable evidence that humans have been eating meat and lots of it for a very very long time. Certainly he has access to Google Scholar. Hint: plug in "meat" + "human evolution" or "meat" + "isotope studies." If anything, Colin is a sad example of how increased specialization in science furthers ignorance. There is really no good excuse for a doctor to not draw on the vast wealth of anthropological research, especially if he is going to make claims like that.
The pharaohs, who suffered numerous health problems including gout and heart disease, were also big consumers of grain and alcohol.
Last year I read a certain book that extolled the virtues of fermented coconut water, but gave no instructions for making it. Instead, the author's website sold the drink and it wasn't cheap. I wanted to try it myself, so I went on Ebay and bought water kefir grains for about $6.
Now water kefir is kind of like dairy kefir, but it supposedly thrives in just sugar water rather than milk. The problem was that my grains never really thrived. There is a host of conflicting and bizarre information out there about how to treat them and somewhere along the way I did something wrong. I tried all kinds of different fancy sugars, spring water, artisan dried fruit....but they never reproduced. Whatever, I still got benefits from them even if they are pain to take care of. Since you don't ferment kefir as long as kombucha, cleaning and feeding them was a chore I had to do every other day. Maybe they were unhappy because I went on vacation and left them in the fridge....it's hard to find babysitters for tiny gelatinous bacterial and yeast colonies. However, I plan on buying more soon and hopefully I can figure it out, because I really enjoyed the drinks I made.
I suspect the reason that people buy expensive coconut water is that the way to make it is NOT to put your kefir grains in the coconut water. You should do a normal water kefir ferment that consists of sugar and lemon for a day or so. Then use that fermented water and mix it with coconut water or whatever juice you want in a nice bottle with a good stopper. A couple of days later you should have carbonated fermented coconut water. It's probiotic and has less sugar than normal coconut water. Ferments of other fruit juices are delicious too and water kefir is less harshly acidic than kombucha.
You've heard about this great thing called the paleo diet and you decide to try it. Lean meat, salads, fruit, some mixed nuts, some fasting...how hard can it be? Unfortunately, a few days later you are sick with hunger. You crave some delicious potato chips and give in. You end up back where you started. You decide the paleo diet is bunk.
Unfortunately, you never were on the paleo diet. You were on the faileo diet. It's unfortunate because certain people have been plugging this diet as THE paleo diet, when really, it's not.
WHAT? Why are leafy vegetables, lean meats and seeds in the middle? It's simple- they are a total waste of any true forager's time. Think about optimal foraging theory: how much time does it take to collect 500 calories of leaves, seeds, or lean meat? How easy are they to digest?
Well, it takes a freaking long time and any forager would say...why bother? (unless the particular leaf or seed has some prized medicinal quality). The amount of protein in lean meat is hard to digest. Inuits threw the lean meat to their dogs! Seeds and leaves aren't that easy to digest either. Humans, unlike many other apes, can't extract much energy from leaves.
Foragers spend their time looking for energy dense foods- coconut, yams, and of course...the king...ANIMAL FAT! It's easy to digest and has tons of calories. If you are in a scarce environment, calories are simply king. Eat enough calories should be the number one rule of the paleo diet. Foragers that didn't eat enough calories died. If you are utilizing intermittent fasting, doesn't forget to feast too! Also, when you are fasting you should NOT feel hungry. If you do, you probably aren't ready for IF and you need to nourish and heal your body to be ready. A doctor in NYC that uses the paleo diet to treat illness has his patients fast before a physical. How hungry they were is a good indicator of health. The practicing paleo dieters typically don't experience hunger at all.
Furthermore, how bad are those less-evolutionarily appropriate foods like butter? They probably aren't as good as pork belly, but plenty of agrarian cultures thrived on them. Don't fall into an obsessive purity trap- figure out what foods actually drag you down, and don't sweat the rest. Gluten grains upset my stomach, but butter doesn't hurt me as far as I can tell.
As far as I'm concerned salads aren't really food. It's hard to get enough calories from them without resorting to oils, which aren't really that paleo. They are maybe medicine, maybe dessert...I've had some enjoyable ones, but relying on them as meals has led to many an episode of hungry angry irritability.
Try counting your calories. If you are eating salads, chicken breast, lean reindeer jerky, salmon filets, or Planter's mixed nuts...no wonder you feel sick! These foods are fine in moderation, but they aren't truly nourishing from a caloric perspective without some fat or carbs or both. Eat some freaking pork belly....a lot of pork belly maybe in some mashed tubers...and some fatty lamb cooked coconut milk...and some short ribs cooked in tallow...and a bunch of shrimp cocktails. Eat that stuff until you aren't hungry and then tell me whether the paleo diet works for you.
I don't think lean meats or greens are BAD, there just aren't meals in themselves. Don't eat greens unless they have bacon on them is a rule I personally follow :)
PS: Someone pointed out that nuts probably don't belong on that second tier in terms of logical foraging because most are really more trouble to open than they are worth. Mongongo nuts are an exception. Most others like butternut are impossible to open and have almost no flesh to reward you with, or are easy to open but hard to detoxify like acorns.
I made this last week hoping to use it as a tool to talk with people about paleo and other alternative diets. It can be often be difficult because so many people tell me that foragers are not healthy and that our modern life is the best. They have images from National Geographic of impoverished "primitives" and the "didn't they only live to be 30" meme in mind. Often they will tell me that they are so glad for modern life because if they had been born back then they would have died because they need a C-section or had some horrible case of strep throat.
They aren't really separating environmental issues from food. In much of modern middle class America, our environment is low-risk. Notice that I didn't say better. There are plenty of things wrong with our environment ranging from over-sanitation to lack of sunlight. In fact there might be chronic low grade risks in the modern environment from environmental contamination, too much light, etc. But we generally don't have to worry about risky childbirth, lions, tribal warfare, malaria, tuberculosis, hunting accidents, and all kinds of nasty things that are out there in the wild.
Our hazards are largely caused by an inappropriate diet that leaves us with obesity, diabetes, cancer, IBS, GERD and other diseases that are almost exclusively present in modern society. The standard american diet leaves us in quadrant III, not worrying about lions, but worrying about blood sugar and BMI instead. Pairing nutrition appropriate for human beings with the benefits of modern life allows us to move to quadrant IV. Notice I include Whole Foods Vegan there. I certainly believe you can lose weight on such a diet, I just don't believe it's an optimal diet. A truly optimal diet like WAPF or paleo allows the possibility of raising truly healthy children with well developed teeth and bones. Personally veganism also wasn't adequate to help me heal from GERD and my teeth weren't in such great shape afterwards either. But I'm throwing a cookie here to vegans that at least don't eat processed crap, vegetable oils, and sugar. They are better off than most, especially if they are utilizing fermentation of grains, legumes, and vegetables. A vegetarian diet that includes fermented dairy and eggs is even closer to being appropriate nutrition for our econiche.
You'll notice that modern hunter-gatherers have less appropriate nutrition and a harsher environment than their paleolithic predecessors. Civilization has pushed them into unwanted land that less oppressed foragers would have shunned. They also struggle with diseases introduced by outsiders.
Nomads and agrarian peasant cultures are also relatively healthy. They are eating neolithic foods, but they have been eating them long enough to know how to derive nutrition from them and minimize their antinutritional factors through fermentation and soaking. Lots of people look at these cultures and think "oh, well I guess their genes adapted to agriculture and it's OK for me to eat this Nutrigrain bar since my ancestors were agrarian." Nope, most of the adaptation was not genetic, but technological. People figured out that if they fermented and limed their corn they didn't have malformed bones. I tell people who are skeptical of paleo to go ahead and eat grains, but at least embrace the technology so many of us have forgotten that allows us to not poison ourselves with them. So many people read about the Tarahumara made famous in Born To Run and think that their health means some boiled corn on the cob is superfood. Wrong- the Tarahumara soak and lime their corn.
I don't do grains much myself because while these technologies these traditional societies came up with are amazing, they don't completely rid grains of their problems. Most of these cultures still preferred meat and ate grains and legumes only because they couldn't afford it. Traditional agrarians aren't fat or diabetic, but their height and bone structure just doesn't approach that of coastal foragers from the studies I've read.
Regardless, this chart isn't any sort of rigorously scientific study- we could probably argue for days where to place things, but it's a decent matrix for separating appropriate nutrition from other factors. That's definitely only one part of the picture, but it's a very important part. The other pieces are important too- sunlight, community, loving child rearing, a not too sterile environment, and being physically active for example. But dealing with the diet is a great first step.
Last week I was soooooooo busy. Between snowstorms and planning events, I had no time to go to the grocery store. I ended eating out for more meals than I care to admit, especially since I just finished The Art of Eating In by Cathy Erway. It's mostly a fun book about cooking, cookoffs, and secret underground restaurants, but it's also an impassioned defense of cooking. In New York City, land of busy people, cooking needs it! Cathy talks about how cooking not only saves money, but gives you a whole new view of food. Instead of being just a foodie, you really get to know food.
Cathy doesn't follow any special diet, but if you follow the paleo diet, cooking is even more beneficial. You get to manage every single ingredient, which is hard in a restaurant. Yeah, you might order just meat and vegetables, but who knows where the meat came from or what oil was used to stir fry the vegetables? If you are using the paleo diet to battle health problems or to improve the quality of your life, you have to remember that these little things can make a big difference.
It's interesting because this week I'm totally committed to eating in, so now I can compare how I eat. Here's my diary:
Monday LAST week: Got a salad with mixed greens, buffalo, yam, and mushrooms at The Pump for about $9. It sounded delicious, but really it's just flavorless. By the afternoon I'm totally wilting and spacing out...I snack on some dried fruit I had next to my desk, but it just makes me more hungry. Ugh. I bet the lean buffalo was cooked in some crap canola oil.
Monday THIS week: Presidents Day, so I didn't have to work. I eat some delicious delicious pork belly, using up my frozen supply. Guess I need to buy more.
Tuesday LAST week: Got Chipotle salad bowl for $8.50 with some pork. Asked for more pork...but sadly it seems like it's mostly lettuce and tomatoes. One hour later and I'm sooooooooooo hungry. What's for dinner?
Tuesday THIS week: Pumpkin soup made with coconut milk/chicken stock and buffalo with a seaweed and walnut salad. Pretty delicious and nutritious! I'm satisfied!
Wednesday LAST Week: Lunch buffet at Free Foods. This looks promising. I'm really excited to eat wild salmon, marinated portobello mushrooms, raw vegan pad thai, cashew creme, and roasted beets...but it ends up costing an arm and a leg. Frustratingly enough, I end up hungry again and ravenous by the time I get home for dinner. Like most "healthy" midtown restaurants, Free Foods skimps on the fat. I don't know how anyone survives on this kind of food. I contemplate going to a vending cart, but reconsider when I think too hard about what might be in the delicious creamy white sauce at the Halal cart...last time I ate there I ended up with a stomach ache.
Wednesday THIS week: Simple sausage sauteed with butternut squash in some coconut oil, plus a small seaweed salad. Didn't seem like much food, but I'm full the rest of the day.
Conclusion: Well, the week isn't over yet! But I've got some more killer lunches planned. In the past I learned that my lunches need lots of fat, pumpkin/yams/beets or other substantial vegetable for calories, and a salad. Last month I had trouble because I was just eating things like fish and mushrooms, which is not enough fat or calories. But once I got simple and satisfying lunches down, I saved money and felt better! Eating out isn't bad, but I think I'll reserve it for restaurants that don't skimp on the fat and use meat I feel good eating, like Momofuku or Lot 2.
Some readers have wondered: what's the big deal about these omega-3 fatty acids you have been talking about? So here is a list of important facts and why you should care about them.
Omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that both have important roles to play. The scientific evidence shows that omega-3 fatty acids play an important role in the health of the heart and the brain as discussed in this post from Mark's Daily Apple on Fats.
The standard American diet is very very high in omega-6 fatty acids primarily from vegetable oils and grains and fairly low in omega-3 fatty acids. Why is this bad? From an evolutionary perspective it's inappropriate- we evolved on a diet with a ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 that was 2:1- 1:1. There is strong evidence excess omega–6 intake prevents the body from utilizing omega-3 and even depletes it from our body.
Of course we can have a brain without adequete omega-3s, but for optimal mental development omega-3s play a huge role. This post at Whole Health Source talks about research showing that deficient children suffered various effects ranging from low verbal intelligence to poor social behavior.
In another post he talks about how omega-3s play a huge role in the risk for heart disease.Omega-6s oils are often considered heart-healthy, but this is based on outdated and misinterpreted research. The unfortunate connsquences of a high-omega 6 diet are evident in the Israeli Paradox: people in Israeli consume tons of "heart healthy" oils like soybean oil, yet have very high rates of heart disease.
Seafood is the primary source of omega-3s that are readily utilized by the body. Flax and some other plant sources have small amounts, but their conversion to the usable form is low, though this can be increased by decreasing intake of omega-6 as I discussed in my post about seeds. The most interesting evidence, which Susan Allport talks about in The Queen of Fats, comes from a study that compared Africans eating no fish compared to Minnesotans eating some fish, but also lots of Western high omega-6 foods. The Africans had more optimal omega-3 levels! Their low omega-6 intake allows them to utilize more of the omega-3s found in plants.
The role of the ratio is controversial. Some believe that as long as your ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is 10:1-1:1, you are in the clear, but Stephen from Whole Health source presented some good evidence that the total amount of omega-6 is more important. His conclusion is that you should get no more than 4% of our calories from omega-6 fats. The sad fact is that eating lots of fish and fish oil might help with preventing heart disease, but it's like putting a bandaid on a severed arm if omega-6 intake continues to be high. Acculturated Inuit still eat plenty of fish, but that so far hasn't protected them from getting obesity and diabetes from consuming too much omega-6.
The bottom line is that omega-3s are important and too much omega-6 is damaging. Ditch the high-omega 6 oils (safflower, sunflower, soybean, corn, canola) and anything with them (store-bought mayo and sauces unfortunately). All the omega-6s you need can be obtained by consuming nuts and fruit oils like olive oil..though not too much of course! It's also probably wise to consume some seafood or fish oil, but the lower the consumption of omega-6s is, the lower that need is. I personally don't take fish oil anymore because it does have some side effects (burping, bleeding more when cut) that I found unpleasant and it's hard to find a fresh and environmentally friendly source.
I hope Stephen from Whole Health Source writes a book about this someday! The only book I can recommend right now is Susan Allport's The Queen of Fats, which is an interesting primer, though unfortunately it focuses too much on the ratio theory.
Outside Magazine recently had one of their reporters try the Paleo Diet for Athletes. His cholesterol improved, but he felt hungry and irritable, which caused him to ultimately dismiss the diet. I think one of the problems with The Paleo Diet for Athletes is that is doesn't do a complete paradigm shift. Eating lots of lean protein and continuing to fear fat is actually not a paleo diet.
I don't believe that paleo diet is a magic diet that I want everyone to follow. However, I do believe thinking about diet in terms of human evolution is extremely valuable. Many of my close friends and family members aren't going to be paleo any time soon either whether it's because they oppose eating animals or because they can't imagine breakfast without oatmeal. Luckily, I think there are simple steps anyone can take to improve their diet using evolution as a lense.
- Rethink fat. So many people think saturated fat is the villian and soybean oil is going to save us from heart disease. Reading Gary Taube's Good Calories Bad Calories is a good way to allay your fears that fat is the problem. Follow up with Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient by Jennifer McLagan to learn about the health and culinary benefits of fat. Learn about how real food nourishes and fake foods kill with Nina Planck's Real Food. If you are interested in the health of your brain, skin, and other vital organs you can read about the importance of omega-3 fatty acids in The Queen of Fats by Susan Allport.This is also a good time to look at the vegetable oils on your shelves as elucidated by this post in Mark's Daily Apple and deciding which ones are industrial junk and which ones are
- Banish junk! Whether you are a committed vegetarian or interested in paleo, you can benefit from ditching doughnuts, candy, cookies, chips, and other junk. Sugar Shock by Connie Bennett is a good primer on the problems with sugar. The Whole Soy Story tells you why boca burgers and soy milk might not be such great choices. Explore the drawbacks of grains, particularly gluten, in Going Against The Grain by Melissa Smith. Learn about the consquences of industrial food in The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan.
- Think about food evolutionaily! Rethink your perception of paleolithic peoples and hunter-gatherers by reading Jared Diamond's essay The Worst Mistake(FREE) and Weston A. Price's Nutrition and Physical Degeneration(FREE). Learn about and try the paleo diet. There are many good books that you can start with like The Primal Blueprint or Neanderthin. Plus there are tons of free web resources ranging from blogs to Paleohacks. Question whether "inevitable nuisances" in life like acne, heavy periods, stomach upset, constipation, etc. are inevitable or caused by diet. Try the paleo diet if you can and see if your health improves, maybe you can ID foods that cause problems.
- Hmm....I don't think this diet is for me, since grains/dairy does't bother me enough, I don't want to eat much meat, etc.. That's OK: you can still benefit from thinking about food evolutionarily. Reducing junk is one big step, but you can go further by reudcing the potential hazards of neolithic foods and unlocking their full nutritional potential through traditional preparations like fermentation and culturing . Learn more about this in the great cookbook Nourishing Traditions or the more vegetarian-friendly Full Moon Feast and Wild Fermentation (more here). You can also simply benefit by improving food quality- eating more nutritious foods like kale, yams, bone marrow, seaweed, grass fed meat, and wild fish. Get rid of boneless skinless chicken breasts and eat pastured pork belly or oysters instead. If you chose to eat grains, then ditch the plastic packaged store-bought bread and learn about fermenting and soaking traditional grains to unlock their nutrition. Follow blogs that promote traditional nutrition like Kelly The Kitchen Kop or The Nourishing Gourmet.
I write this from personal interest. While my boyfriend is interested in health, he doesn't see the need to go paleo and he really doesn't like eating meat. But it's very easy for us to eat nourishing meals together with things like pumpkin soup, sauteed mushrooms, buttered yams, pickled carrots, and garlic kale. Admittedly, I try to steer him away from things like Boca Burgers/soy milk and towards alternatives like homemade fermented dosas, properly soaked beans and farro, and traditional sourdough bread, but those things are delicious, so it doesn't take much convincing.
Highland Cattle from Veritas Farm Upstate...if you live Upstate, you should check them out! Beautiful healthy animals!
People are increasingly concerned about meat. Is it humane? What about scary food poisoning?* Is it sustainable? The only way to answer these questions is to know your farmer. I feel very comfortable eating meat from farms I know. The meat is tracable to a single animal and I can personally visit the farm to see that it's clean and the animals are living in a good environment. Contrast that with meat from the average grocery store which is probably several cows from god knows where all mixed together with a dash of ammonia. Food contamination is often due to processing mistakes...in the flurry of a slaughterhouse, entails get pierced and it often doesn't get noticed, contrast that with smaller slaughterhouses catering to small farmers that process only a few animals every day.
Where can I get meat I feel good about eating?
- Your local farmer's market or natural foods store. Eat Well Guide has a searchable lists of markets, restaurants, and stores!
- A skilled butcher is also a great option. Artisan butchers care and know a great deal about meat quality. Most eat their meat raw to test quality...if there is anyone in the city I trust, it's butchers. Try The Meat Hook, The Greene Grape, Marlow and Daughters, or Dickson's! You can read about the butcher workshop I attended at my travel blog.
- Contacting a farmer, this is often much cheaper! I suggest Local Harvest or Eat Wild.
- Meat CSAS. In NY I suggest The Piggery (I am a happy member), 8 O Clock Ranch, or the Traditional Nutrition Guild. Affordable and delicious meat delivered to you!
In terms of contacting a farmer, this is waaaaaaaaaaay underutilized. Lots of farmers are eager to sell meat without trekking all the way to NYC at 4 AM to sell at Union Square. If you contact a farmer you can pick it up yourself to see how the farm operates. Don't be shy: farmers want your business!
*It's as good a time as any to remind everyone that going meat free isn't going to prevent food poisoning. Bagged salad is certainly scarier than pastured ground beef.